It’s not going to come as any surprise to anyone that we should use the sense that we were born with in the process of performing our tasks at work, but do you use the resources right under your nose?
I was participating in a discussion with a group of dealers with whom I shared a common manufacturer relationship, and we were all commiserating about how we could increase business, retain business, etc. Gee, like we were the only ones having those thoughts!
Anyway, I looked around the table and thought, “You know, I really benefit from the relationship I share with these individuals. Even though they are competitors, we all ultimately benefit from one another.” I could just as easily have been associated with a bunch of “scoundrels” but was fortunate to share a common bond with these folks.
In this group, we would commonly share ideas on advertising, employee resources, vendor issues; anything and everything that would affect our businesses. This group was one that I felt I could open up to, and not worry about it coming back to haunt me. (I am not talking about business information that would not and should not be shared.)
Most of us within that group would participate in advertising programs in association with the common equipment manufacturer we all represented. But that was really where the association ended; at least when it came to advertising. Many of these people I would see socially from time to time, and you know, I really enjoyed being around them. They were not only good business people, good competition, but pretty good individuals as well.
It occurred to me that there was a resource right ‘under our noses’ that we didn’t recognize. As a group, we represented several hundred years worth of heating and air conditioning service to the community. Individually, some of us had been in the business anywhere from 10 to 30 years (man, getting’ old stinks!) And, for many, the companies were into their second and third generations! In today’s world of “here today and gone tomorrow” businesses, it is worth noting when this type of business history exists.
When we were kicking around ideas of new advertising, I made a suggestion that although radical, really made everyone stop and think. As everyone knew, there was more than enough work to go around. In fact, virtually all of the businesses represented in this group had established themselves as well-run, well-respected and successful businesses. My thought was if the group was successful, and our company was part of that group, then voila, we would benefit from the group’s success.
What I proposed for an ad campaign was this: Each company takes it’s best looking vehicle from their fleet and those vehicles would be parked next to one another. That’s right! Eight competitor’s vehicles parked side-by-side. Then the principal of each company would position themselves right there in front of the respective vehicle. The camera would pan down the line clearly identifying each company and each individual, (with of course emphasis on the common manufacturer; can’t forget those co-op dollars).
As the camera would pan, the individual would introduce themselves and their company by name. Each individual would give a little snippet of the ad. For example:
“We know there are a lot of choices out there when it comes to heating and air conditioning. We represent your local (Brand) dealers, and honestly, we don’t mind which one of us you choose. We, as a group, want you to have the best possible service, along with the best possible installation, using (Brand) equipment, in which we have placed our collective trust!
Obviously the exact wording can be worked out, but you get the idea.
Can you imagine the message that would be sent when showing by actions and words, the common bond shared between these dealers? Now the experience of 300+ years is in place for each and every dealer participating. What’s funny is some will garner more business than others as a result of this approach, but that would have been the case anyway!
Sometimes we don’t have to look as far as we may think for some “new” approach to our customers. Next time you’re at a dealer meeting, just look around the room!
All the best, Irishmist.